Today, we had the chance to sit down with Y’Artist Leroy Miranda Jr and talk to him a little bit about his art, process and style before his solo show, Unveiled: Part Two | Figures in Form opens Thursday, January 21 at the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery, from 5:30-8pm. Leroy is a self-taught artist who discovered his artistic passion three years ago and has been creating in a whirlwind ever since.
How did you start making art? One of my friends, an older lady, asked to sketch me out and it inspired me. I asked if I could have some paper and ink, and then another friend gave me some brushes and oil paints. Next thing I knew, I was hooked. Every chance I got, I would work for hours in the studio. I would go from working at the restaurant straight home and work until 2 or 3 AM, go to bed, wake up, do some more work, then go back to work. The first year I produced over 100 pieces. I kept on going and going. The second year, somebody kept bringing my work to get it framed at a gallery Uptown. The gallery owner asked, “Who is this guy?” My friend said, “This is Leroy Miranda.” He said he wanted to do a solo show of my work. I brought him a stack of 100 or 200 pieces, and we laid it all out and that was my first show.
Do you still have a “day job”? No. It’s been tough, but so far I have supported myself off my artwork.
Did you go to school for anything? No, I was home schooled. I never got my high school diploma, and I’ve always worked in restaurants. I’ve worked in several high end restaurants across the City. That’s pretty much what I did from 17 to 25. I started waiting tables to make more money, fund my work and pay for art supplies. When I was cooking, I felt like I didn’t have any creativity. I said, “I need to do something about this. I need to start painting or something.”
So is this your calling? It has been an obsession. Now, it’s all I want to do. At first, I was creating all this work, and I wasn’t going to show anybody. Then, it just happened. It was just really random. I’ve developed my own style, and educated myself and my work. I’ve been to countless museums and galleries, and I’m constantly going to New York and seeing all these exhibitions. I educate myself and my practice.
How has Where Y’Art helped you? Where Y’Art asked if I wanted my own solo show because John Price, General Manager at The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery saw my work on Whereyart.net and proposed the idea. Where Y’Art curates four yearly exhibitions at the Hotel, and this show will kick off the 2016 series. They’ve helped me by giving me this opportunity and making this connection with the hotel. Where Y’Art has given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten on my own.
Where do you find the inspiration for your work? I go to galleries and museums. I like to look at great works and get inspired by them, Picasso, Miro, Kandinsky. Then I go back, and I throw some music on. I learn from these amazing artists and their style.
What’s your process like? It’s very random. I start with a sheet of paper. Sometimes I’ll go back to previous papers I’ve worked on, and redo it. Or I’ll start on something else. Most of my work is vibrant and collaged. I like colors to be like gouache. I like my pigments to be very bright. Many times I’ll be playing country music in the background. Not new country, old country. I’ll kind of sing and paint at the same time, and the work just happens.
How would you describe the work in your upcoming show Figures in Form? This collection includes contemporary mixed media portraits on paper, panel and canvas that I’ve assembled by hand using found objects like oil paint, ink, flash paint, oil pastels, dirt, collage, acrylic and dry pigment.
The works are a visceral interpretation of the unknown and a message of self-discovery, not only for myself, but for the viewer, to see a part of their own story within my works.
What are you excited about for the upcoming show? I always get nervous before a show. Really, super nervous; that’s probably normal. You doubt yourself. You doubt your work. You doubt the show is going to be good. Then I get over that doubt as soon as I have a shot of whiskey. We’ll have to see what everybody says about it.
Join us for Unveiled: Part Two | Figures in Form, Thursday, January 21 from 5:30 pm to 8 pm at the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery, 535 Tchoupitoulas.